How to Handle Difficult Players
I've noticed and number of posts on Google + about how to handle punishments for difficult or inattentive players. The Lords of Tyr is a fairly laid back group of players. We all have our moments of inattention. However it rarely gets to the point of rudeness and can be solved by a simple "OK that was a fun tangent... now back to the game!"
Not every group gels as well as we do however. While I have a distaste for any kind of in game punishment, it is something that every DM or gaming group needs to think about.
I have a two part philosophy to in game punishments.
1. Make the "punishment" transparent. The rules must be known to the entire group before they can be used. Its not fair to surprise players with penalties until they know what is expected of them and what the penalties are.
2. Keep it simple. There are two situations for punishments in game, in combat and out of combat.
In Combat Punishment
If I were to punish a player for being difficult or inattentive during combat, I would to work it into the game by making them dazed.
“You weren’t paying attention to the game and are really slowing things down and frustrating the group. Because of that, your character wasn’t paying attention in game and stubbed their toe/bumped their head, etc... and is now dazed until the end of your next turn.”
Being dazed doesn’t totally take you out of the action. In 4E you can only take one action (standard action, move, minor action), you grant combat advantage, and you cannot make opportunity attacks. Its simple and effective. The number of rounds it takes effect can be adjusted based on the severity of the situation.
Out of Combat Punishment
If you are out of combat, and need to adjust a player’s attention, I would assess a -4 penalty to their next skill check.
“You weren’t paying attention to the game and are really slowing things down and frustrating the group. Because of that, your character will suffer a -4 penalty to their next skill check."
If it was information they should have paid attention to rather than a skill check situation, don’t repeat the info without an intelligence check (at least DC 15 skill check adjusted for their level) so their their character can “remember” the information at a -4 penalty. The penalty can be adjusted based on the severity and situation.
What do you think? Leave us a comment!